Ah, the parmigiana! That perfect marriage between fried aubergine and tomato! Ah, fried aubergine! I can even get emotional when it comes to such dish, which embeds the very roots of my culinary culture and tradition. So you can add "fried aubergine" to the quite comprehensive list of things that make me feel emotional, like:
- finding out that my parents-in-law had given me their professional sewing machine for christmas
- Francesco Totti stepping in in his (likely) last Champions League match
- seeing my kitchen in Alicante for the first time
- that how I met your mother episode when Robin speaks with her unborn children, and then realises that the choice of not having kids will give her a lot of good memories, but also some regrets
- many more how I met your mother episodes
- many more TV show episodes
I have cooked this dish hundreds of times and always for non italian people, but this time I also managed to present it in a nice way, as opposed to bringing the aluminium tray in the middle of the table as it is. And then I realised that this mini-version is probably the most appropriate way of serving it, being such a heavy dish: fried stuff layered with cheese and tomato, a real Sunday dish (a relaxed Sunday lunch before a good siesta) .
(for one big tray)
first ingredient: patience. take your time, the aubergines need to be cuddled!
10 aubergines of medium size
1 garlic clove
grated parmigiano (80 gr)
grated ricotta salata (80 gr)
First of all, cut the aubergines in slices (from the long side), place them in a colander with salt between one layer and the other, put something heavy on top and let them rest for a couple of hours. Wash them, carefully dry them and then deep-fry the slices in hot sunflower oil (the oil has to cover all the aubergines, so do not be shy with it). Dry the oil in excess and then place back the slices in the colander, interleaved with kitchen paper. Place again something heavy on top and let the aubergines rest for a few hours or better one night. You will see that most of the oil has been been absorbed by the paper and has been pushed down. Take the slices out one by one and dry them with kitchen paper individually. Boring, long, I know, but that's the only possible way of cooking a parmigiana which is not greasy and oily!
Prepare the tomato sauce with two spoons of oil EVO, the garlic cloves and the tomatoes peeled and cut in small cubes. Cook until ready, then take out the garlic cloves. Now grate the cheeses, slice the mozzarella and start assembling the parmigiana in a tray: one layer of aubergines, one of tomato, mozzarella, basil and the grated cheese, until reaching the border of the tray. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 200 degrees. Eat and re-eat the day after: the parmigiana, like myself, gains taste with age.